Opening Ceremony for Newest MAYA Cinemas Location a Well-Attended Fiesta

By Josh Muchly

The ribbon-cutting ceremony for MAYA Cinema’s sixth and newest theater took place on Jan. 10, showcasing the $30 million dollar investment into North Las Vegas — $75 million once the adjoining retail space has been completed. The ceremony consisted of the following: a blessing of the land by a local Paiute Tribal leader; a full mariachi orchestra; models wearing authentic, indigenous attire; comments from CEO Moctesuma Esparza, COO Jeremy Welman, Mayor John Jay Lee and Councilman Isaac E. Barron; and a CEO Tech Talk with Q&A session featuring Mitra Esfandiari of Retail Design Collaborative, Tess Manchester of Vista USA, Claude McMaster of D-Box Technologies and John Partilla of Screenvision Media.

The new theater contains 14 auditoriums, two self-serve soda kiosks dubbed the “Coca-Cola Freestyle,” a full-service cantina and an arcade featuring the likes of “Temple Run,” “Space Invaders” and “Pac-Man.” It will also feature cry-rooms to accommodate parents with infants in attendance, and, impressively, is the first theater ever to have a 100 percent D-BOX auditoriums (there is a D-BOX demo available in the lobby).

Although each MAYA theater is built to incubate a climate of connected cinema, no location is built identically to another.

“These are not cookie-cutter properties,” according to Esparza.

Accordingly, special attention was placed in the lobby of the new location, which was designed with high ceilings and an open floor plan to reinforce the idea of the movie theater as a community cornerstone. Moreover, an extensive window-space allows for a view of the majestic Sunrise Mountain east of the Valley along with the north end of the Las Vegas Strip visible just outside.

North Las Vegas was considered an ideal destination because, according to Esparza, the city is something of an entertainment desert — not because there aren’t out-of-home activities to enjoy, but because there aren’t local ones; residents have to drive too far from home to reach them.

But, when it comes to movie theaters, is location most important?

Hundreds of potential patrons were in attendance, and easily fit into the lobby for free popcorn, drinks, and cultural cuisine; however, they were not present exclusively to see a movie; they were present to take part in the official opening. This is an important distinction to make because even though the expansiveness of the lobby was on display, generally speaking, the theater will not be hosting such large, culturally-relevant and locally-important events. Rather, they will be, like other theaters, hosting movie screenings with staggered starting times marketed to different audiences on different days of the week.  And so, the question looms: how long will the lobby hustle and bustle with such excited patrons?

When all is said and done, do people still go to the movie theater to play arcade games, visit a cantina, or socialize with others for extended periods of time? Do the masses still flock to the theater for a relatively-inexpensive getaway? Does the available selection of content match their taste(s)? I predict, despite all the bells and whistles, the latter is true: customers will come if the movies they want to see are playing. Indeed, when Esparza announced that Netflix’s Roma will premier at this new location on Jan. 18, the room erupted in applause.

But Roma (and other films like it) don’t require a high-tech D-BOX chair to enjoy; and, its target audience might not be interested in sticking around for a game of “X-Men pinball.” Indeed, with Palace Station’s 200 million worth of renovations less than six miles away, Esparza’s commitment to bring art films, independent films, world cinema and Spanish-dubbed pictures to North Las Vegas is his surest investment.


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